The Big Four (or Big 4) is the colloquial name given to the four main banks in several countries where the banking industry is dominated by just four institutions and where the phrase has thus gained relevance. Some countries include more or fewer institutions in such rankings, leading to other names such as Big Three, Big Five, or Big Six.
In Australia, the "big four banks" refers to the four largest banks that have traditionally dominated Australia's banking industry in terms of market share, revenue, and total assets. The "big four banks" of Australia are:
- Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
- Commonwealth Bank of Australia (owned by the Australian Government until 1996)
- National Australia Bank
- Westpac Banking Corporation
A longstanding policy of the Federal Government in Australia has been to maintain this status quo, called the four pillars policy. The policy has been maintained through the Global Recession of 2008–09, as Westpac acquired St George Bank and the Commonwealth Bank acquired Bankwest, reinforcing the special status of the "big four".
- Erste Bank / Sparkasse* (credit unions)
- UniCredit Bank Austria (formerly Bank Austria Creditanstalt)
- Raiffeisen Bankengruppe*
- BAWAG P.S.K. (formerly Österreichische Postsparkasse)
*separate legal entities operating under a common brand
- KBC Bank, including its CBC Banque subsidiary in the French Community of Belgium and KBC Brussels brand in the Brussels-Capital Region
- Belfius, government-owned bank
- BNP Paribas Fortis, subsidiary of BNP Paribas
- ING Bank, subsidiary of the ING Group
|Itaú Unibanco||Largest Private bank||2017||US$452.6 billion|
|Banco do Brasil||Largest State Owned Bank||2017||US$430.2 billion|
|Caixa Econômica Federal||State Owned Bank||2017||US$406.0 billion|
|Banco Bradesco||Private Bank||2017||US$391.6 billion|
According to the National Bank of Cambodia, the top three largest banks in Cambodia dominates 39.1% (The largest bank in term of total asset is Canadia Bank at 14.2%, followed by ACLEDA Bank at 12.7%, in third place Advanced Bank of Asia (ABA) at 12.2%) of the overall banking assets as of 2020. These banks are:
- Royal Bank of Canada (RBC)
- Toronto-Dominion Bank (TD)
- Bank of Nova Scotia (Scotiabank)
- Bank of Montreal (BMO)
- Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC)
During the 1920s, the term "big four" applied to the Four Northern Banks of the Republic of China (i.e., the four most capitalized commercial banks in Northern China). These were the Yien Yieh Commercial Bank, the Kincheng Banking Corporation, the Continental Bank and The China & South Sea Bank. They were contrasted with the Three Southern Banks of Southern China.
By 1949, the "big four" banks were the Bank of China, the Bank of Communications, the Central Bank of China, and the Farmers Bank of China. All four were state-owned. Together with the Central Trust of China, Postal Savings and Remittance Bureau of China, and Central Cooperative Treasury of China, these banks were called the "four banks, two bureaus, one treasury" or "四行两局一库".
- Industrial and Commercial Bank of China
- Bank of China
- China Construction Bank
- Agricultural Bank of China
- Bank of Communications
|Banco de Bogotá||Largest Private Bank||2017||COP 3.6 trillion|
|Bancolombia||Private Bank||2017||COP 2.6 trillion|
|Banco Davivienda||Private Bank||2017||COP 1.204 trillion|
|Banco de Occidente Credencial||Private Bank||2017||COP 932.827 billion|
|BBVA Colombia||Private Bank||2017||COP 346.333 billion|
|Banco Agrario de Colombia [es]||State owned Bank||2017||COP 339.410 billion|
|Banco Colpatria||Private Bank||2017||COP 253.572 billion|
|Banco Caja Social [es]||Private Bank||2017||COP 238.116 billion|
|Citibank Colombia||Private Bank||2017||COP 172.051 billion|
|Banco Popular [es]||Private Bank||2017||COP 156.033 billion|
- Česká spořitelna, subsidiary of Erste Group
- Československá obchodní banka, subsidiary of KBC Bank
- Komerční banka, subsidiary of Société Générale (formerly part of State Bank of Czechoslovakia)
- The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC Hong Kong)
- Hang Seng Bank (Principal member of the HSBC Group)
- Bank of China (Hong Kong)
- Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong)
HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank (Hong Kong), and Bank of China (Hong Kong) are the three note-issuing banks; Hang Seng and HSBC Hong Kong are both under the common ownership of London-based HSBC Holdings plc. According to Global Retail Banking Cross-sell conducted by RFi group in 2015, HSBC, Bank of China (Hong Kong), and Hang Seng Bank were the top 3 most popular banks in Hong Kong.
- Bank of Ireland
- Allied Irish Banks
- Permanent TSB
- Ulster Bank (a wholly-owned subsidiary of NatWest Bank). Has withdrawn from the Irish market as of 2023.
Japan had a "big four" between 2002 and 2005 when the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi and UFJ Japan were still separate entities. The two merged to form Mitsubishi UFJ, now the largest of the three, in 2005.
These banks are all listed in the Tokyo Stock Exchange (where they are constituents of the Nikkei 225 and TOPIX Core30 indices) and the New York Stock Exchange in the form of American depositary receipts; MUFG and SMBC Group are both additionally listed in the Nagoya Stock Exchange and serve as the financial arms of their respective namesake keiretsu (Mitsubishi for MUFG, Sumitomo and Mitsui for SMBC).
In Lebanon, where the banks have retained their banking secrecy laws since 1956, which is prevalent in the whole MENA region, and while adopting international measures to fight money laundering, the "big four" banks consist of:
- Bank Audi (founded in 1830 and ranked on the Forbes Magazine Global 2000 list of largest public companies in the world in 2016)
- Byblos Bank (founded in 1950 as "Société Commerciale et Agricole Byblos Bassil Frères & Co.")
- BLOM Bank: Banque du Liban et d'Outre-Mer S.A.L (founded in 1951)
- Fransabank (founded in 1921 as Société Centrale de Banque)
Furthermore, as of September 2016, there are more than 51 banks in Lebanon, one of the smallest countries in the Middle East, a fact that has always made investors from the Arab countries, especially the GCC petrodollar in addition to the European and world investors, to place their funds in the Lebanese banks.
- Banque et Caisse d'Épargne de l'État (Spuerkeess), state owned bank
- Banque Internationale à Luxembourg,
- BGL BNP Paribas
- ING Luxembourg
The market leader for the Netherlands, ING Group, is one of the world's largest multinational banking and financial service corporations, with products and services reaching over 41 countries worldwide.
New Zealand is Australia's closest neighbour, with very close cultural and economic ties. The big four Australian banks (often referred to collectively as the 'big banks' or the 'big Aussie banks') also dominate the banking sector in New Zealand, through subsidiaries:
- ANZ Bank New Zealand (ANZ), a subsidiary of Australia and New Zealand Banking Group
- ASB Bank (ASB), formerly Auckland Savings Bank, a subsidiary of Commonwealth Bank of Australia
- Bank of New Zealand (BNZ), a subsidiary of the National Australia Bank
- Westpac New Zealand (WBC), formerly WestpacTrust, after a merger with Trust Bank, a subsidiary of Westpac Banking Corporation
These four NZ subsidiaries are massively profitable and sometimes even outperform the Australian parent companies. The extent to which they dominate the banking sector can be seen in profits: In the 2012/2013 financial year, the largest of the Big Banks, ANZ New Zealand, made a profit of NZ$1.37 billion. The smallest, BNZ, made a profit of NZ$695 million. State-owned Kiwibank, community trust-owned TSB Bank, SBS Bank (formerly Southland Building Society) and Heartland Bank, the next four largest banks by profit, made NZ$97 million, NZ$73.5 million, NZ$14 million and NZ$7 million (albeit with an underlying result of about NZ$30 million) respectively. Thus, the profit of New Zealand's next four largest banks (after the Big Four) is equal to less than 30% of the smallest of the Big Four, BNZ.
The term "Big Five" is used instead of four, with five banks dominating the Nigerian banking world. In 2011, these top five banks had a combined balance sheet, including contingents, of 12.9 trillion naira ($821 billion), 33 percent higher than the prior year.
The term "Big Four" is not explicitly used in the Philippines. The following are the four largest banks in the country in terms of total assets as of March 2020:
The Romanian banking system has almost 40 banks, most detained by local financial vehicles and some subsidiaries of foreign banks. The big four are as follows.
- Banca Comercială Română, now part of the Erste Group
- Banca Transilvania, the biggest bank detained by private investors with domestic capital
- BRD – Groupe Société Générale, formerly known as Romanian Bank for Development
- CEC Bank, the state-owned bank, formerly known as Casa de Economii și Consemnațiuni
Other major banks are Raiffeisen Bank, Unicredit Bank, and the ING Bank of Holland subsidiary.
- Absa Group Limited, majority owned by Barclays between 2005 and early 2018.
- FirstRand Bank, operators of First National Bank.
- Nedbank, minority-owned by Old Mutual.
- Standard Bank, spin off from Standard Chartered Bank in 1987.
There was formerly a "big six" (los seis grandes) composed of three banks that are now part of BBVA (Banco de Bilbao, Banco de Vizcaya, and state-owned Banco Argentaria) and three now combined as Santander (Banco Central, Banco Hispanoamericano, and Banco de Santander).
Privately owned banks,
- Commercial Bank of Ceylon PLC
- Sampath Bank PLC
- Hatton National Bank PLC
- National Development Bank PLC
Foreign-owned leading banks,
- CTBC Bank
- Cathay United Bank
- Taipei Fubon Bank
- Mega International Commercial Bank
- Taiwan Cooperative Bank
- The Hongkong and Shanghai Bank in 1888 (Now HSBC)
- The Chartered Bank of India, Australia and China in 1894 (Now Standard Chartered Bank Thailand)
- Banque de l'Indochine in 1897 (Now Banque Calyon, a subsidiary of Crédit Agricole)
- Mercantile Bank of India in 1923 (Now Citibank Thailand, a subsidiary of Citigroup)
In 2021, the top three largest state-owned banks held over 37.1% of the market share, while Turkey's top four largest foreign-owned banks dominate 22.9% of the overall market share.
United Arab Emirates
England and Wales
In relation to England and Wales, the phrase "big four banks" is currently used to refer to the four largest banking groups:
In relation to Scotland, the phrase "big four" is currently used to refer to the four largest banking groups:
- Royal Bank of Scotland (NatWest Group)
- Bank of Scotland (Lloyds Banking Group)
- Clydesdale Bank (trading as Virgin Money UK)
- TSB Bank (Banco Sabadell).
In relation to Northern Ireland, the phrase "big four" is currently used to refer to the four largest banking groups:
- Bank of Ireland
- Ulster Bank (NatWest Group)
- Northern Bank (trading as Danske Bank)
- Allied Irish Banks.
Until 1970, the phrase "big five" (as opposed to "little six") was used to refer to the five largest UK clearing banks (institutions which clear bankers' cheques), which in England and Wales were:
- Barclays Bank;
- Midland Bank (now HSBC UK Bank and part of HSBC Holdings);
- Lloyds Bank (now part of Lloyds Banking Group);
- National Provincial Bank; and
- Westminster Bank.
In the United States, the "big four" banks hold about 45% of all U.S. customer deposits (as of 2018), and each have assets of more than 1.7 trillion U.S. Dollars. The banks are, in order of size:
- JPMorgan Chase (headquartered in New York City, bank chartered in Columbus, Ohio)
- Bank of America (headquartered and bank chartered in Charlotte, North Carolina)
- Citigroup (headquartered in New York City, bank chartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
- Wells Fargo (headquartered in San Francisco, bank chartered in Sioux Falls, South Dakota)
From a retail banking perspective, U.S. Bank and PNC Bank both have significantly more branches than Citibank, the retail banking arm of Citigroup. However, Citigroup still has significantly more assets than U.S. Bancorp and PNC Financial Services.
In Vietnam, the four major banking groups are:
- Big Four accounting firms
- Big Oil
- Big Soda
- Big Tech
- Big Three (automobile manufacturers)
- Big Three (management consultancies)
- Big Tobacco
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